We recently marked two years since Gina Trapani joined our team and launched ThinkUp (then ThinkTank) and that anniversary for our flagship platform gives us a nice opportunity to look back and at what's coming in the future for Expert Labs.
When we launched Expert Labs toward the end of 2009, it was difficult to explain that people might someday interact with policymakers using social networks, let alone that these conversations might have a real impact. But as the success and effectiveness of web-wide protests in stopping the passage of the SOPA and PIPA bills in Congress showed earlier this year, we've come a long way. Every single person involved in making the laws of this country now knows that groups of individual citizens, banding together to provide informed opinions using modern social networks, can make sure that policymakers hear their will.
In short, our highest mission has gone from an impossibility to a reality. While we don’t claim any credit for what's happened, we are proud to have done, and to be continuing to do, the work of making this sort of engagement easier and far more frequent. It shouldn't take a once-in-a-lifetime effort by the technology world to get people to care about the laws that affect them.
As exciting as it is to see one of our biggest goals realized, it also highlights that the assumptions we made in creating our program are out of date. Simply put, the effective public use of social networks to influence policy isn't something that needs to be proven feasible now, it has shifted into a reality that needs to be improved upon and promoted.
Given that evolution, we'll be ending Expert Labs in its current form at the end of this month. As designed, Expert Labs has been a useful experiment in learning about public policy and social networks, with a finite lifespan. While this is a bittersweet announcement for our team, it's not a dramatic change for our mission or our community, as we'll be continuing in the work without any pause or interruption.
Most importantly: Our investment in, and work on, the ThinkUp platform is only going to increase. Beyond the fact that its open source community is thriving, we're working right now on a model which will enable us to ramp up development on ThinkUp, and we will post more about that soon.
While we prepare to reboot Expert Labs into whatever form it takes in the future, I want to offer my sincere thanks to our brilliant, generous and inventive parent organization, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and in particular Dr. Alan Leshner, whose leadership not only made our work possible, but showed an incredibly nimble, open-minded and creative spirit in embracing our mission and methodology. Of course we would not exist without the unfailing support and funding of the MacArthur Foundation, where Valerie Chang has been an invaluable sounding board and champion for our work.
False modesty aside, we also have the best advisors of any team working at the intersection of technology and policy, and I am truly appreciative of the patience and wisdom of Susan Crawford, Caterina Fake and Hilary Mason.
Though we still have much work to do together, I must express my profound appreciation for the team that has helped us accomplish so much, as Gina Trapani, Andy Baio and Clay Johnson have been brilliant collaborators and creators.
We'll have more details on Expert Labs evolution by the middle of this year, but in the meantime, our focus is on smoothly transitioning our efforts to the future success of ThinkUp. Thanks for being part of our effort.